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Singapore, BA, Emirates, Etihad airlines trial blockchain Covid-19 credentials

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) developed the IATA Travel Pass platform that uses blockchain to address airline verifications of COVID-19 credentials. Today it announced Qatar Airways will join Emirates and Etihad Airways which signed up to trial the solution last week. They join other airlines, including British Airways and Singapore Airlines, that plan to test the blockchain credentials.

The platform aims to put governments more at ease to re-open borders without quarantine requirements. 

One of the current challenges for passengers is navigating all the information published by governments on preventative measures. The UK government, for example, requires all incoming passengers to present a negative COVID-19 test. However, it is difficult to find information about whether it must be a PCR test or equivalent as opposed to a rapid test.

IATA’s Travel Pass summarizes what passengers need to present to the authorities before traveling and enables contactless sharing of documents through the Travel Pass App. The platform will also give passengers details of testing centers near their departure location and enables labs to send test results or vaccination certificates to the passenger’s app.

Hence, the Travel Pass solution consists of four functions, a registry of country testing requirements, lists of testing centers, an app to enable labs to send test results securely, and the contactless travel app that includes test results or a digital vaccine passport. The solution was developed in conjunction with self-sovereign identity startup Evernym.

Singapore Airlines was the first to trial the Travel Pass. The service started on December 23rd on flights from Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. British Airways is also expected to commence pilots in the coming weeks. 

“COVID-19 tests and vaccinations will be an integral part of air travel for the foreseeable future. We are offering a digital solution that allows the easy and secure verification of this information, and supports the industry’s safe and calibrated recovery from this pandemic.” said Singapore Airlines VP JoAnn Tann, “Using IATA’s robust Travel Pass framework would also provide our customers and governments with the assurance that they need about the security and authenticity of the test and vaccination information.”

Furthermore, Emirates has already confirmed it will begin trialing IATA’s Travel Pass in April, initially with customers departing from Dubai. 

Etihad Airways, UAE’s national airline, has also announced it will launch IATA the solution for its guests. Initial tests will only be conducted on flights from Abu Dhabi, with an opportunity to expand to other locations if successful. 

“Since 1 August 2020, Etihad is the only airline requiring a pre-departure negative PCR test result for all passengers worldwide, and again on arrival in Abu Dhabi, giving our guests the added assurance of safety when they travel with us,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, COO, Etihad Aviation Group.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of the pandemic, GE Aviation developed a blockchain solution offering COVID-19 credentials for airline staff and passengers. The company also developed an app to track COVID-19 cleaning protocols in airports adopted by Albany Airport last November. Other groups working on solutions include the COVID Credentials Initiative, where Evernym was a founding member, and the Vaccination Credential Initiative.

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